Monday, November 6, 2017
Think tanks play an important role in the U.S. policy process, attempting to improve lawmaking and governance by testing political assumptions through empirical research, and offering policy alternatives based on evidence. However, a think tank’s ability to influence policymaking rarely hinges on the strength of its claims or the quality of its findings. Deborah Gonzalez ’85, the director of government affairs at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), will discuss the divide between policy research and the policy process in California government, and ways in which the two can work better together to improve lawmaking.
Deborah Gonzalez ’85 spent over 25 years working in the California legislature (both in the Assembly and the Senate), serving as policy director to five different Republican leaders and representing legislative Republicans in negotiations involving the state budget, as well as welfare, education, health care, prison and tax reform. She now directs government affairs for the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). Her experiences give Gonzalez a unique perspective that combines an intimate knowledge of process in Sacramento with the policy research environment of PPIC.
Gonzalez and her staff work to connect PPIC research with policymakers and community leaders to help think tanks understand what issues to focus on and how to effectively influence the policymaking process in an ever-changing political climate increasingly driven by public opinion, legislative politics, interest group lobbying, and a host of other challenging factors.
A graduate of Claremont McKenna College, Gonzalez holds a law degree from the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific.
Ms. Gonzalez’s talk is co-sponsored by the Dreier Roundtable and the Rose Institute for State and Local Government.
Author of "Dark Matters and the Dinosaurs" and "Knocking on Heavens Door" and professor of theoretical particle physics and cosmology at Harvard University, Lisa Randall will talk about her research and advances in extra dimensions of space and novel theories of dark matter.
Lisa Randall's research connects theoretical insights to puzzles in our current understanding of the properties and interactions of matter. She has developed and studied a wide variety of models to address these questions, including extra dimensions of space and novel theories of dark matter. Much of her current research is focused on the Large Hadron Collider and dark matter searches and models.
Randall has also had a public presence through her writing, lectures, and radio and TV appearances. Randall’s books, Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions and Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World were both on the New York Times’ list of 100 Notable Books of the Year. Randall’s most recent book is titled Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, about connected science in the universe.
Randall has also pursued art-science connections, writing a libretto for Hypermusic: A Projective Opera in Seven Planes that premiered in the Pompidou Center in Paris and co-curating an art exhibit for the Los Angeles Arts Association.
Randall’s studies have made her among the most cited and influential theoretical physicists and she has received numerous awards and honors for her endeavors. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was a fellow of the American Physical Society, and is a past winner of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, a DOE Outstanding Junior Investigator Award, and the Westinghouse Science Talent Search. Randall is an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy and an honorary fellow of the British Institute of Physics. In 2003, she received the Premio Caterina Tomassoni e Felice Pietro Chisesi Award, from the University of Rome, La Sapienza. In 2006, she received the Klopsteg Award from the American Society of Physics Teachers (AAPT) for her lectures and in 2007 she received the Julius Lilienfeld Prize from the American Physical Society for her work on elementary particle physics and cosmology and for communicating this work to the public. In 2012, she was the recipient of the Andrew Gemant Award from the American Institute of Physics, which is given annually for significant contributions to the cultural, artistic or humanistic dimension of physics.
Randall was on the list of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People" of 2007 and was one of 40 people featured in The Rolling Stone 40th anniversary issue that same year. Randall was featured in Newsweek's "Who's Next in 2006" as "one of the most promising theoretical physicists of her generation" and in Seed Magazine's "2005 Year in Science Icons." In 2008, Randall was among Esquire Magazine's “75 Most Influential People.”
Randall earned her Ph.D. from Harvard University and held professorships at MIT and Princeton University before returning to Harvard as a faculty member in 2001. She is also the recipient of honorary degrees from Brown University, Duke University, Bard College, and the University of Antwerp.
Professor Randall's Athenaeum talk is part of the Science and Skepticism series co-sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies.
Photo credit: Rose Lincoln